IGN 9-5
From microbes to ants, small things and their very large ecosystem footprints

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
336, Baltimore Convention Center
Tamara J. Zelikova, Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
Nicole A. Trahan, Botany, University of Wyoming, WY
Diego Dierick, Biology, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Michael F. Allen, Biology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA
Thomas Harmon, Engineering, University of California Merced, Merced, CA
Steven Oberbauer, Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Catalina Murillo, Microbiology, University of Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica
Luitgard Schwendenmann, Science and Environment, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Leaf cutting ants are increasing in abundance in tropical and subtropical ecosystems that cover 17% of the Earth’s land mass and store approximately 40% of all carbon, much of it in soil. Leaf cutter ant nests are massive and during nest construction and maintenance, ants mix soil particles and alter soil chemistry. As ants bring leaf biomass into their nests, they influence soil microbial communities and the processes they mediate, with large impacts on ecosystem carbon dynamics. We are quantifying these impacts and using the information to scale up leaf cutter ant influences across a range of tropical ecosystems.